Hearing on Sexual Assault in the Military

Hearing on Sexual Assault in the Military

Earlier this week, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) spoke at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing about sexual assault in the military, urging leaders to take sexual assault cases out of the military’s chain of command.

“Not all commanders are objective,” said committee member Senator Gillibrand before a panel of military leaders testifying at the hearing. “Not every single commander necessarily wants women on the force, not every commander believes what a sexual assault is, not every single commander can distinguish between a slap on the ass and a rape because they merge all of these crimes together.”

The eight-hour hearing included testimony from military leaders and victims’ advocates, and focused heavily on whether serious sexual assault cases should be taken out of the military’s chain of command. “You have lost the trust of the men and women who rely on you, that you will actually bring justice in these cases,” she said. “They are afraid to report. They think their careers will be over.”

Senator Gillibrand introduced The Military Justice Improvement Act (S. 967), which would for the first time remove the decision on whether to take a case to special or general court-martial completely out of the chain of command and give that discretion to experienced military prosecutors for all crimes punishable by one year or more in confinement, except crimes that are uniquely military in nature, such as disobeying orders or going AWOL.

The bill has 18 cosponsors, including four Republicans. It’s more important than ever to take action to address and prevent sexual violence in the military. We must protect those who dedicate their lives to protecting us. For more information about sexual violence the military, please visit: http://www.futureswithoutviolence.org/userfiles/Military%20Factsheet%20update%2003%2003%2013.pdf.

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